A View From the Bridge is a modern adaptaiton of a Greek tragedy written by Arthur Miller. The women in the play—Beatrice and Catherine are characters which Miller uses to show the idea of feminity and changes they bring into the play through Catherine’s increasing maturity from a child to an adult.
At the beginning of the play Miller portrays the two women as submissive and passive, he does this through dialogue as the two women confronting Eddie about Catherine applying for a secretarial job states: “What job? She’s gonna finish school” suggesting that Eddie is a very controlling figure in Catherine’s life—and education. Beatrice’s tries to appease Eddie by saying “She’s askin’ you now, she didn’t take nothin’ yet” and this woud further porve how Eddie is a dominating figue and the two women, Beatrice and Catherine are passive as they both don’t make decisions without Eddie’s approval. Also, at the beginning of the play, Catherine’s character is portrayed as to be ‘naïve’ this is shown through stagecraft and stage directions written in the text—“almost in tears because he disapproves” this is Catherine’s reaction when she sees Eddie upset with how Catherine “walks wavy” infront of people. Beatrice is seen as the warm-hearted and typical ‘housewife’ in the play, the way she worries on how the house looks like before her cousins arrive; “…I thought it was gonna be next week! I was gonna clean the walls, I was gonna wax the floors…” but Miller subtly hints that Beatrice is restraining herself, and that she hints about Eddie’s darker character through stage directions and speech, “(looking into his eyes) I’m just worried about you…” and Eddie’s domineering character being set as the “man” of the house says “Listen, as long as they know where they’re gonna sleep”. Beatrice is treated patronizingly by Eddie, the way he talks to her is similar to a parent speaking to a child—“And this goes for you too, B. You don’t see nothin’ and you don’t know nothin’” this shows how Eddie looks down on Beatrice and under estimates her, even when she says “…but Eddie, suppose somebody—“ Eddie retorts “…You—don’t—know—nothin’”. Eddie towards Catherine on the other hand, takes advantage of her naivety, by not stopping her when she offers to light Eddie’s cigar, an intimate act that is usually between couples not a parently figure and child.
Changes in Beatrice and Catherine appear when the two other maub characters arrive in Red Hook; Marco and Rodolpho. Both of their arrival affects the other characters as Marco proves to be a challenging presence towards Eddie, whereas Eddie’s jealousy and his innapropriate feelings towards Catherine is slowly revealed as romance grows between Catherine and Rodolpho as he makes her realise her maturity. Miller’s idea of feminity is blurred in this section of the play, this is shown when through stage directions and dialogue as Eddie shows his immense dislike to Rodolpho, not only because there is attraction between Catherine and Rodolpho but also how Rodolpho appears to be girlish in his eyes. The idea of femimity is described with distaste through Eddie’s character; when Rodolpho sings and Eddie is mocked because of it, “You know what they’re callin’ him now? Paper Doll they’re callin him, Canary…” Eddie, who is used to being respected throughout the community, can’t stand the mockery that other people give him. His jealousy towards Catherine and Rodolpho is suggested when he mocks Catherine infront of Beatrice, Marco and Rodolpho—“What’s the high heels for, Garbo?” this would be humiliating because Eddie uses sarcasm to compare Catherine to Greta Garbo, a famous actress at that time. Catherine, however appears to be maturing by slowly realising feelings and her attraction towards Rodolpho by putting on the heels—this is symbolic in a way of how she “dresses to impress” a factor that Miller is proabably stressing in this episode of the play. Miller also portrays women in this section of the play as desireable and jealous, by how Rodolfo flirts with Catherine through dialogue and stage craft—“(laughs, indicating Catherine) Especially when they’re so beautiful!” Beatrice on the other hand is jealous, towards Eddie—“When am I gonna be a wife again, Eddie?” her suggestion towards Eddie—probably meaning why he doesn’t find her desireable anymore shows Eddie feels about Catherine; and when Beatrice tries to get Eddie to talk to her, she herself realises his feelings for their niece and critisizes him; “What’re you gonna do stand over her till she’s forty? Eddie, I want youto cut it out now, you hear me? I don’t like it!” Miller’s use of rhetorical question through Beatice—“…till she’s forty?” suggests that Eddie plans to keep Catherine forever because he doesn’t let her make her own decisions.
Later in the play Beatrice, now portrayed as a more confident and able figure tries to console Catherine into making her own decisions. Miller in this section of the play depicts Catherine now, as an adult and about to get married. Beatrice confession to Catherine plays a vital role in her own self-realisation and how she has to be mature and responsible for herself; “Don’t tell me you don’t know; you’re not a bably anymore…” and Catherine’s reply was “I don’t know B. It just seems wrong if he’s against it so much”—Catherine’s reply shows how her character appears to have misplaced loyalty, as she is loyal to Eddie and unsure of her own decisions of mrrying Rodolpho. Beatrice, on the other hand is more assertive and her loyalty is seen to be with her family, to both Eddie and Catherine—“It means you gotta be your own self more…You gotta give him to understand that he can’t give you no orders anymore” Beatrice carefully tries to explain to Catherine, whos naievety makes her appear to be a “12 year old” in a woman’s body by saying “…but you’re a grown woman and you’re in a house with a grown man” Beatrice is trying to subtly suggest to Catherine about Eddie’s “feelings” towards her because of her actions. Towards the end of the play, Miller shows how Eddie loses control over his emotions and his feelings towards Catherine has surfaced when Catherine admits to Eddie that she is going away to marry Rodolpho “Eddie, I’m not gonna be a baby anymore!” Eddie’s reaction; “(He reaches out suddenly, draws her to him, and as she strives to free herself he kisses her on the mouth)”
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